He also played a key role in bringing Formula One racing to Austin by investing in the Circuit of the Americas, the Austin track where the annual U.S. Grand Prix race has been held since 2012.
In a statement on Monday, the Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, called Mr. McCombs “a true Texas titan across sports, media, business and philanthropy” who had “followed his dreams.”
Mr. McCombs’s most lucrative venture was Clear Channel, which he co-founded with Lowry Mays in 1972, when they purchased a local radio station in San Antonio, KEEZ-FM, for $125,000. (Mr. Mays died in September at 87.)
The two men continued to acquire radio stations, then television stations and billboards around the country. Aided by the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act, which allowed media conglomerates to own an unlimited number of stations, they built the company into the world’s largest owner of radio stations; by 2000, Clear Channel owned more than 1,200.
The company eventually expanded into event promotion, live music and sports management. Mr. Lowry oversaw the business, but Mr. McCombs was instrumental in seizing opportunities to expand, according to John Hogan, the company’s former chairman and chief executive.
“He was steadfast in support of the notion that when the telecommunications regulations changed in 1996, we had to move quickly and aggressively, and that those who were slow and hesitant would get left behind,” Mr. Hogan said in an interview for this obituary.
Though the company was often criticized for homogenizing radio programming in a way that eliminated much of the local flavor of independent radio stations, the formula was extremely profitable. When Mr. Lowry began to see signs that the internet would disrupt its well-oiled strategy, he and Mr. McCombs sold the company in 2006 for $17.9 billion to a private equity group led by Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners. As part of the deal, the group agreed to take on more than $8 billion in the company’s debt.